Monday, 28 May 2018

Smaug Socks in Walcot Yarns Opus

Smaug socks in Walcot Yarns Opus

Some time ago, I knitted a pair of Smaug socks that I absolutely loved. Sadly, I only got to wear them once or twice before the moths got to them and they couldn’t be saved. Even though I dislike knitting the same thing more than once, I knew I would give these socks another go.

2014 is far enough away for me to not mind revisiting this pattern, but the main reason I chose it is because I got my hands on Opus by Walcot Yarns, my LYS’ very own brand (I love that Art Nouveau style label, by the way). A Yarn Story has created a range of beautiful colourways and I was tempted from the start. My stash is already making me feel guilty, so it took this long to finally buy a skein, and I think it is worth it.

Opus would look best in shawls, I think. I can imagine using it for lovely, soft gloves as well or a light, but warm top. It feels wonderfully soft and is fairly loosely plied. I love the fibre content on the label: 70% Falkland Merino, 30% Baby Alpaca, 100% Awesome. Seriously, how can you resist 100% Awesome? Despite the softness, this 4-ply is described as hard-wearing, so I hope it stands up to being worn on feet. I deliberately wanted to use a yarn that does not contain nylon, just to see how well it lasts (the environment will probably thank me, too).

The yarn knits up very well, though using 2 mm needles means I have to be careful to get all the strands of each stitch while knitting. Sometimes I miss because of the loose ply, but using the recommended 3 – 4 mm needles would make it easier.

So Smaug is coming along nicely and I am enjoying the pattern. I made a mistake right at the start, however, and ended up with a much longer cuff than called for. Never mind. The original length was a tiny bit too short for my liking, so this mistake isn’t a biggie. I particularly enjoy knitting the "scales" the cuff consists of. It’s very easy to do and memorise, so don’t be afraid to give this pattern a go.
I am in no rush to finish these socks and am enjoying the process. The yarn and pattern certainly make for a good, calming experience. 

Have you tried Opus yet? How did you like it? Let me know here in the comments or over on Twitter @KnittyNadia.

Saturday, 12 May 2018

I Am a Planner Convert

I love my planner! Last Christmas I felt like I'd give a planner a try. In the past, I never saw the point in things like bullet journaling and elaborately decorated planners, especially for the sake of being more organised and saving time. I thought it was a serious waste of time (still do, really), considering how long it takes to do all of this. My colleagues will tell you that I am far too efficient already (how very German of me), so I didn't want a planner to help me with that. However, I liked the idea of a planner as another creative outlet. Being able to actually record all important dates is simply a bonus.

So I asked Mark for a specific planner for Christmas and got this beautiful limited edition Kikki K planner in light blue with gold polka dots. It's even got my initials embossed inside, which is very special to me because they are for my married name, which still feels incredibly new. The planner is an A5 ring binder with a few dashboards, sets of paper, and perpetual calendar included. I like the practicality of being able to put pages in or take them out as needed. Very helpful if I mess something up!

I added the colourful index tabs to separate the pages by month. The paper that comes with the planner consists of basic lined pages, so it's great for creative people who like to make their own weekly or daily spreads.I have a week on two pages, added a water log to make sure I drink enough every day, and I decorate each day with a sticker or drawing. I can't tell you how many stickers I've been buying! And washi tape. Oh, the washi tape! I needed to buy a separate box for the rolls and really need another.

Of course I have some knitting-related pages as well. The one above shows my list of blog topics to help me come up with new content. This way, if I have an idea, I can jot it down instead of forgetting it before I have a chance to type it up on here. Soon I'll need to do another brain storming session to add to the list. 

I especially like my WIP section of the planner. I created a dashboard collage that leads to a month-by-month calendar where I mark off the days on which I have knitted. I also record what I have been working on, which will be a great way to look back on the year once completed.

As you can see, I tried my hand at some fancy script, which is harder than it seems. It looks a bit shaky there, but I still like the overall effect. I have bought a few new pens in the meantime, including a fancy Tombow brush pen that I need to practice with so that I can add a few more pretty touches to the planner. Kikki K planners come with paper that is sadly too thin for markers and brush pens, so I am bit restricted now. It's easy to buy suitable planner paper, though, and I found some great packs with rainbow-coloured lines or simple dots. I can't wait to use them!

So I have been thoroughly bitten by the planner bug. Do you have one that you use for knitting in some way? Do you have any recommendations for stationary? Let's hear them! Comment here or tweet me @KnittyNadia.

Sunday, 6 May 2018

FO: Pixelated Pullover

It is done! At long last, after two years and nearly a complete reknit, I have cast off my Pixelated Pullover. It isn't perfect and far too fitted for my liking, but I am very proud to have managed a full-sized garment that I can actually wear. I even got to wear it for a full day before the British heatwave started. (See, I told you it would get warm once I cast off!)

I tweaked the pattern a bit and am happy with most of it. I decided against waist decreases, which is a good thing, but I wish I had made more hip decreases. Right now the jumper is a little too tight at the hips for my liking. You can't tell from the above photo, but it is obvious from the rear. I should have started the red section at the hip earlier to match the sleeves. It's not bad how it turned out, but it would have looked better, I think. I don't like the ribbing at the hem and may alter it one day. For some reason, one of my sleeve cuffs is shorter, too, so I will lengthen it at some point. In fact, I would like to make both a bit longer.

I like how the stranded knitting has turned out, even from the back. It looks good, though it took a long time to knit those sections. Believe it or not, I have already cast on a jumper for Mark based on this pattern, but I am not going to knit the pixels. To save time, I will knit stripes. Given how long it took to finish mine, Mark said he expects it to be ready to wear by 2024. Sounds about right.

The collar isn't lying entirely flat, but I hope that will change with time. I have to admit I haven't washed or blocked the jumper yet because of a lack of space, so the fit may become more relaxed afterwards. I used Cascade 220 Superwash, so it is likely to stretch a little bit. Have you used this yarn before? Let me know how it behaved after washing.

Because I didn't know how much yarn I would need, I bought enough for two jumpers, it turns out, which is why Mark is getting one, too. My jumper is nice and warm and I suspect I will get a lot of wear out of it next winter. There is a severe shortage of warm garments in my closet so this is a welcome addition. I just wished it didn't take so long to knit a jumper in my size - I would like to have more.

Do you enjoy knitting jumpers? What do you like or dislike about it? I look forward to hearing what you think - here or over on Twitter @KnittyNadia.

Tuesday, 1 May 2018

Holiday Time means Knitting Time

I am back from very windy, very cold Brighton!

Mark and I spent nearly a full week at the seaside to celebrate my 40th (no idea how that happened). While I had no intention of taking any knitting along, the prospect of spending a 4-hour train journey with idle hands changed my mind.

Believe it or not, I finally finished my Pixelated Pullover just before the mini-heatwave this April (details to follow in a later post). This freed me up to knit something new and I promptly cast on… *drum roll*… another jumper. This one is for Mark, though, and is basically the same I just finished, but in another size and with stripes instead of pixels. You’d never know I was sick and tired of my jumper just a little while ago.

Still, no longer having my long-term WIP on the needles made me want to start something smaller, too. Luckily, my first hank of Opus from WalcotYarns arrived and I decided to reknit my Smaug socks that fell prey to moths a while back. They made for perfect travel knitting, too, and I am happy to report I knitted on all but one of the days I spent in Brighton.

So has finishing Pixelated got the knitting juices flowing again? I hope so! I just hope I didn’t speak to soon.